Penguin Group Restores Kindle E-Book Lending Until End of the Year
November 24, 2011 9:30 AM
After suspending the availability of e-books to libraries earlier this week, Penguin has decided to to restore libraries’ ability to loan e-books until the end of the year
E-books have become a concern for publishers, as the Authors Guild recently demonstrated when opposing
Amazon’s Kindle Owners’ Lending Library
. Now, Penguin Group has a beef of its own with Amazon and the lending of e-books.
New York-based publisher Penguin Group recently suspended the availability of e-books to libraries saying that libraries are not allowed to loan e-books for the Kindle. Its reasoning had to do with “security concerns.”
Amazon allows Kindle customers to borrow e-books from local libraries through a partnership with OverDrive, which is an American digital distributor of downloadable e-books, music and videos.
On Monday, Penguin had approached business partner OverDrive asking that it eliminate its “Get for Kindle” button for Penguin books.
“We have always placed a high value on the role that libraries can play in connecting our authors with our readers,” said Penguin. “However, due to new concerns about the security of our digital editions, we find it necessary to delay the availability of our new titles in the digital format while we resolve these concerns with our business partners.”
The American Library Association was not pleased with Penguin’s actions. It suggested that Penguin take up the matter with Amazon directly instead of punishing readers.
“Penguin Group’s recent action to limit access to new
to libraries has serious ramifications,” said The American Library Association. “The issue for library patrons is loss of access to books, period. Once again, readers are the losers. If Penguin has an issue with Amazon, we ask that they deal with Amazon directly and not hold libraries hostage to a conflict of business models.
“The situation is one more log thrown onto the fire of libraries’ abilities to provide access to books – in this case, titles they’ve already purchased. Penguin should restore access for library patrons now.”
Now, Penguin has been informed that Amazon wasn’t aware of Penguin’s agreement with OverDrive, and the publisher has decided to restore libraries’ ability to loan e-books for the Kindle – but only until the end of the year, and it will not include new titles. Penguin, Amazon and OverDrive are now working together to address any concerns Penguin has.
Just last week, the Authors Guild, which is a non-profit American organization of and for authors,
posted a blog entry attacking Amazon’s Kindle Owners’ Lending Library
. It called the program “nonsense,” and said Amazon had twisted the interpretation of contracts it has with publishers in order to make the lending program a success despite rejections from said book publishers.
Penguin never took part in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
Hopefully Penguin, Amazon and OverDrive can figure this out by the end of the year, but in my opinion, publishers are being incredibly whiny about the situation. I understand that Penguin’s security concerns translates to piracy concerns associated with e-book lending. Its main issue is likely DRM, since Amazon’s AWZ, Kindle Print Replica (KPR) and Kindle (Topaz) formats are targets for piracy, and tools to eliminate the DRM that protect Amazon’s formats for e-books are not hard to figure out. But publishers tend to be no different than the recording industry, which looks to obtain its cut by any means necessary.
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